God, When Will I See Prayer Breakthrough?
Connecting The Dots In Your Life
Author: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
In my last post, Lord Are You Really Listening to My Prayers?, I left with Omar having met a strange man. Omar had prayed that day for God to give him more opportunities to lead people to Jesus Christ.
Omar asked the man, Bob, if he needed help. After talking with Bob for several minutes, Omar realized he was not in any danger. They struck up a conversation. Omar eventually offered Bob a ride. Bob agreed. During the ride, Omar asked Bob if he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to which Bob replied, no. Omar proceeded to share the Gospel with Bob – and Bob prayed to accept Jesus Christ into his life.
It was an amazing experience!
God had answered Omar’s prayer to lead more people to Jesus Christ!
However, if we are not careful, we might assume that’s the end of the story. God simply answered Omar’s prayer and now life goes on.
2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.”
In this verse, Peter is talking to the Gentiles giving them hope as they faced false teachings and persecution. They desired holy living and Peter is encouraging them to keep their faith as they patiently wait for Christ return. Although it might seem like years of waiting, Peter encourages patience through God’s timing.
To us, it seems like God moves slowly in our prayers, but He has perfect timing for His plans. It might be hard to imagine, but by the time Abram (Abraham) was born, the civilized world had been in existence for 1000 years. This was after Adam and Eve. After Noah and The Flood. God was not in a rush for his covenant with Abram to begin. Even after Abram was born, he lived and grew into a man when God finally made His covenant with him and promised him a son. And even that promise took another 25 years to become reality. Although we cry out to God in prayer – we must not forget – He has a plan.
How many times have you heard people question their purpose in life?
We all have the same purpose, and that is to live as disciples of Jesus Christ sharing the Gospel. How that looks in your life and my life is different, but our purpose is the same. Our prayers to God should center on His ultimate purpose. Yes, God cares about our basic needs and we should pray to God to provide as He is our provider – but we are not merely on this earth to survive. We are on this earth to thrive as His servants living in obedience and sharing His Word to a lost and dying world. When our hearts are truly on His purpose we will see answers to our prayers.
A Coach at Heart
As I type this post, Omar is 6 days away from coaching football in the Tennessee High School Football State Championship game. Omar is the running backs coach at ECS (Evangelical Christian School). Since the time I met Omar that’s all he’s ever talked about – coaching football. It’s been his dream and I am amazed to see how God has answered his prayers.
Yet, ten years ago, I still recall the day Omar went jogging one morning and came home having a pity-party about how he would never coach football. He named every reason in the book why it wouldn’t work out for him. We prayed and I tried to encourage him, but truth be told, he had no leads or a path to becoming a football coach. We didn’t know anyone who was coaching football. We didn’t even know anyone who knew anyone. We had no idea how to even look for football coaching positions. Not to mention, if Omar ever wanted to go further into coaching, a college degree is required, and at that time in our lives college was not on Omar’s radar.
The pity-party Omar had was a Friday morning. It was the day after our older son had been accepted as a transfer student to Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Ca. That Tuesday morning, Omar took our son to the school to finish up some paperwork. While at the school one of the school administrators, Nancy, asked if our son would be playing football. Omar told Nancy, yes. She asked if they’d like to meet the head football coach. Omar, thinking nothing of this, told Nancy, sure. The head football coach came down to meet them. They spoke for a few moments.
During their conversation, it hit Omar that maybe he should ask the coach if they needed anymore coaches.
But doubt set in.
He thought to himself:
They probably already have enough coaches.
I don’t have any coaching experience.
I won’t fit in.
Yet – Omar nervously asked anyway.
The head coach excitedly told Omar they were definitely looking for a coach to assist the junior varsity team. He invited Omar to meet the junior varsity head coach.
Omar could not believe his ears. He and the junior varsity coach met and the next day Omar was on the coaching staff at Maranatha High School!
Less than a week after having a pity-party about coaching football – his dream had come true!
2 Peter 3:9 “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Now It Makes Sense
Peter is reminding the Gentiles that it is God’s desire that all people learn the truth and come to a place of repentance.
But how does a person come to a place of repentance?
Fast-Forward several years. Omar coached at Maranatha High School for three years until we had a sudden move to Memphis, Tennessee. During the three years at Maranatha, Omar learned the fundamentals of coaching. When we moved to Memphis his coaching dream seem to disappear. We didn’t know anyone in Memphis. We were back to square one. Would Omar ever coach football again?
We prayed and prayed for Omar’s coaching dream. We lived in Memphis for three years without any hope of Omar ever coaching football again. To be totally honest, Omar had all but given up on his dream.
We were prayerfully in transition looking for a new church home for our family. We reluctantly visited one of the largest churches in the city, Bellevue Baptist Church. Although several people criticized us, we prayerfully decided Bellevue Baptist Church was where God had led our family.
We were excited for the change.
Several months as new members, Omar decided to attend the 6:00a.m. men’s Bible study for the first time. On this particular morning, then head football coach at Cordova High School, was also visiting. The head coach at Cordova High School was not a member of Bellevue, and that morning was his first visit as well. The senior pastor asked the Cordova coach to go on stage for prayer, to which he agreed.
After the Bible study, Omar sat silently and prayed, “Lord, if you make a way for me and the coach to cross paths, I will talk to him.” It’s important to note here, that this men’s Bible study has close to 400 men, or more, in attendance. For Omar and this coach to simply cross paths on their way out – was no easy task. But we serve a big God who hears the prayers of His servants.
Omar was walking out and found himself standing right next to the coach in the doorway. Omar introduced himself and struck up a conversation. The coach invited Omar for a coaching interview. A week later Omar was on the varsity coaching staff at Cordova High School!
I was so happy for Omar!
But – if we are not careful, we might think answers to prayers – our dreams coming true – are about us!
When Omar began coaching at Cordova High School, it was the first time he understood that God was not simply blessing him because he’s so awesome. He was using Omar as one of His agents.
As commander, God gave Joshua victory over Jericho to show the Canaanites that Israel’s God was superior to the Canaanites gods. (Joshua 6)
God gave victory to King David as a leader over the Moabites, because the Moabites posed a military and religious threat to Israel. (2 Samuel 8)
God answered Daniel and protected him in the lion’s den, so that all would know He is the true God. King Darius issued a degree that every part of his kingdom must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. (Daniel 6)
Jesus prayed to God right before He raised Lazarus from the dead. It was not for Jesus’ benefit. It wasn’t even really for Lazarus’ benefit. It was for the people to have faith in Jesus as the Son of God. (John 11:41)
As Peter said; God does not want anyone to perish!
During Omar’s time at Cordova High School, Omar led young men to Christ. He was given the nickname “chaplain” by the players and coaching staff because his godly character inspired them.
How do people come to a place of repentance? By us – God’s agents – through our prayers.
2 Peter 3:11 ‘What kind of people ought you be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.”
How Should We Then Live?
I am convinced God does not answer our prayers the way we want because our hearts are not focused on Him. We want much from God, but we are not willing to live holy and godly lives – leading others to holy and godly lives. The desire of God is that we not perish. The desire of God is for all people to come to a place of salvation. We are His agents who make it happen. Whatever you do for a living – whatever your dreams and desires are – ultimately your purpose is to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ and to pray to God to help you lead other people to Christ.
At the start of this post I share how God answered Omar’s prayer to lead more people to Christ. Omar led Bob to Christ. But the story doesn’t end there. That incident gave Omar the trust and confidence he needs as a football coach to lead young men to Christ. That situation stopped Bob from living as a sinner. Now Bob can lead others to repentance.
Answers to prayer always has a bigger meaning.
It’s not about you. It’s not about me.
It’s about God’s sovereignty and His purpose for humanity.
Pray and ask God to help you be His agent who leads others to Christ.
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS